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Do you have to be American to win Mega Millions lottery?

The Mega Millions lottery is one of the biggest multi-state lottery games in the United States. It is played in 45 states, as well as Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The minimum Mega Millions jackpot starts at $40 million and can grow to over $1 billion if there are multiple rollovers without a jackpot winner. With the potential to win such large prizes, the Mega Millions lottery attracts players from within the United States and all around the world. But can just anyone play and win the Mega Millions jackpot? Or do you have to be an American citizen or resident to claim a Mega Millions prize?

Quick Answers

No, you do not have to be an American citizen or resident to purchase Mega Millions tickets or claim Mega Millions prizes, including the jackpot.

Yes, the Mega Millions lottery is open to anyone worldwide who purchases a ticket from an authorized retailer within the 45 participating U.S. states plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Foreign visitors and tourists can buy Mega Millions tickets while visiting the U.S. as long as they are purchasing the tickets within the participating Mega Millions jurisdictions.

Mega Millions Lottery Background

The Mega Millions lottery originally began in 1996 as the Big Game, with participating lotteries in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Virginia. In 2002, the Big Game added more lotteries and became the Mega Millions game we know today. The lottery has grown tremendously over the past 25+ years. As of October 2017, the 45 participating Mega Millions jurisdictions are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington D.C.

Who Can Play Mega Millions?

The main requirement to play Mega Millions is that you must purchase your Mega Millions ticket from an authorized retailer within one of the participating Mega Millions jurisdictions. There are no restrictions based on your citizenship or residency. Some key rules:

  • U.S. citizens and residents can purchase Mega Millions tickets in any participating Mega Millions state, regardless of where they live. For example, a Florida resident could purchase tickets while vacationing in New York.
  • Visitors to the U.S. from other countries can purchase Mega Millions tickets while visiting any participating Mega Millions state. For example, an Australian tourist visiting California could purchase a Mega Millions ticket during their trip.
  • You do not have to be a U.S. citizen or resident to claim Mega Millions prizes. But you may need to visit the U.S. to claim the prize in person.

So in summary, the Mega Millions lottery is open to players worldwide, as long as you buy the tickets within the participating jurisdictions. You can be a foreign tourist, immigrant, green card holder or other non-resident – as long as you purchase the ticket from an authorized local retailer, you are eligible to play and claim prizes.

Claiming Prizes as a Non-U.S. Citizen

If you win a Mega Millions prize and are not a U.S. citizen or resident, there are some additional steps you may need to take to claim your lottery winnings:

  • For small prizes, you may be able to claim by mail. Follow the claims process for the state where you purchased the ticket.
  • For large jackpot prizes, you will likely need to visit the lottery claims office in person to verify your identity and eligibility.
  • The lottery organization will withhold federal and any state taxes before distributing your prize money to you.
  • Depending on the laws of your home country, you may owe additional taxes on the lottery winnings when you return home.

Consult with the state lottery organization where you purchased the ticket, as well as a tax professional, to ensure you properly claim and account for any Mega Millions prizes you may win.

Biggest Mega Millions Winners

There have been some huge Mega Millions jackpot winners over the years. Here are some of the biggest prizes claimed:

Winner Year Winning Jackpot
Group of 20 Coworkers 2022 $1.337 billion
Anonymous 2018 $1.537 billion
Group of 11 Coworkers 2018 $543 million
Lisa and John Robinson 2021 $516 million
Anonymous 2020 $451 million

While Mega Millions lottery winners are required to come forward publicly in most states, some winners have been able to remain anonymous by claiming their prizes anonymously through trusts or other legal entities. The largest Mega Millions jackpots can create huge media attention, which is why some winners prefer to keep their identities private.

Odds of Winning

The odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are extremely long, at about 1 in 302,575,350. This makes matching all six numbers to win the jackpot a very rare occurrence. Here are the odds for other Mega Millions prize levels:

Prize Level Odds of Winning
Match 5 + Megaball 1 in 302,575,350
Match 5 1 in 12,607,306
Match 4 + Megaball 1 in 931,001
Match 4 1 in 38,792
Match 3 + Megaball 1 in 14,547
Match 3 1 in 606
Match 2 + Megaball 1 in 721
Match 1 + Megaball 1 in 52
Match Megaball 1 in 21

As you can see, matching even just the Megaball for a $2 prize is rare. So while everyone dreams of winning that enormous $1+ billion jackpot, your odds of winning any Mega Millions prize are very low. But of course, you can’t win if you don’t play!

Giant Jackpots Attract Attention

Part of the appeal of Mega Millions is the ability to win such enormous jackpots. In October 2018, the Mega Millions jackpot climbed to a staggering $1.537 billion and was won by a single ticket in South Carolina. The winner chose to remain anonymous.

This giant jackpot was made possible by months of rollovers without a jackpot winner. It easily beat the previous Mega Millions record of $656 million from March 2012. Mega Millions jackpots begin at $40 million and grow based on lottery ticket sales and interest rates. Once a jackpot is won, the next jackpot resets to the minimum $40 million amount and begins climbing again until the next winner.

The Mega Millions lottery can sometimes go many draws without a jackpot winner. This allows the top prize to grow quite large. Huge jackpots of $500 million or more tend to attract widespread media coverage.Lottery fever sweeps the nation when the Mega Millions jackpot reaches astronomical levels.

While the odds don’t change, ticket sales surge when a giant jackpot is up for grabs. Convenience stores and lottery retailers enjoy a brisk business when Mega Millions jackpots set new records. It seems everyone wants a chance to take home one of the biggest lottery prizes in the world!

Government Programs

One great thing about the Mega Millions lottery is that the net revenues help fund government programs and services. While some Mega Millions advertisements play up the exciting aspect of potentially becoming an overnight millionaire, lottery proceeds provide support for many worthy initiatives.

Each participating state Lottery distributes their portion of Mega Millions sales to important causes. For example:

  • In Georgia, lottery proceeds go towards college scholarships and grants through the HOPE program. Since 1993, over $10 billion in HOPE funding has been distributed.
  • California uses lottery revenues to aid public schools and colleges. In 2020-2021, the California lottery provided $1.8 billion in supplemental funding for education.
  • The Maryland Lottery benefits a variety of causes including small businesses, early childhood education, senior citizen services, and more. In FY 2021, the Maryland Lottery contributed over $1 billion in revenue to the state.

While only one player wins the jackpot each drawing, many others benefit from the Mega Millions lottery revenues in dozens of states.

Notable Mega Millions Winners

With so many customers playing Mega Millions across the U.S., there have been some interesting jackpot winners over the years:

  • In 2019, 22 coworkers from a Wells Fargo branch in California shared a $543 million jackpot prize. Each member of the office pool received about $19 million after taxes.
  • When the South Carolina winner claimed the $1.537 billion Mega Millions prize in 2018, they had the option to take a one-time cash payment of over $877 million or receive the full amount in annual installments over 30 years. The winner chose the cash option.
  • A 20-year-old Florida man won a $451 million Mega Millions jackpot in January 2018 just days after the drawing produced no big winner. At the time, it was the fourth largest Mega Millions prize ever.
  • In 2014, a New Hampshire woman won a $559.7 million jackpot while on a dinner break from work. At the time, it was the second largest U.S. lottery prize claimed by a single ticket.
  • A Virginia couple bought 20 Mega Millions tickets with the same numbers for 17 drawings straight, and finally won a $1 million second prize in 2011. Persistence paid off for the retired couple!

Over the years, Mega Millions jackpot winners have included individuals, couples, coworker groups, families, and more from all walks of life. For anyone holding the lucky ticket, a Mega Millions jackpot win can be a life-changing event.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about playing Mega Millions as a non-U.S. citizen:

Can tourists buy lottery tickets in the U.S.?

Yes, visitors from other countries who are visiting the U.S. are welcome to purchase lottery tickets, including Mega Millions tickets, while traveling in participating states.

Can a non-resident claim the Mega Millions jackpot?

Yes, you do not have to be a U.S. resident or citizen to claim Mega Millions prizes, including the jackpot. You will have to visit the U.S. to process the prize claim.

What if I win and go back home?

If you win a major Mega Millions prize and go back to your home country, you will need to work with the state lottery and likely visit the U.S. again to complete the claims process. Be sure to pay any required taxes and consult experts on both U.S. and home country laws.

Can I play Mega Millions from outside the U.S.?

Unfortunately, you cannot purchase Mega Millions tickets online or by phone from other countries. You must buy tickets in person from authorized retailers in one of the participating U.S. jurisdictions while visiting the U.S.


Winning the Mega Millions top prize is a dream for people across the globe. While you must purchase tickets within the U.S., the good news is there are no citizenship or residency requirements to play Mega Millions. Tourists and visitors are welcome to try their luck on the hot lotto game while visiting participating states. Some lucky non-U.S. citizens have won huge jackpots over the years. Who knows, the next multi-millionaire could be a visitor from abroad!